Should you as a consultant or CEO self-publish your book? Should you even write one? I asked these questions and a lot more in my interview with Peter Bowerman, the very successful author of the now standard books on these topics, The Well-Fed Writer and The Well-Fed Self-Publisher.
Why write a book?
There are three big payoffs for consultants in particular for writing a book:
- You get an aura of expertise
- You are forced to codify and crystallize your thinking
- You gain a passive income stream
The first big payoff is the biggest for most consultants, and is the second one to arrive. By being an author of a book on topic X, you gain an immediate aura of expertise on that topic. It’s a little like having a PhD — neither one proves you’re any smarter than people without, however it seems to indicate that maybe you are, and a lot of people will give you the benefit of the doubt.
The second big payoff actually arrives before you finish writing — the process of writing your book will force you to think more deeply, will spark you to have additional insights, and will compel you to refine the language you use to describe your ideas. You may not end up smarter. You will end up sounding a lot smarter. What used to take you 20 minutes to describe, you will now describe in a single sentence. Your concepts will flow easily from your lips. You will find it easy to create and deliver new workshops on the topic and its implications.
The third big payoff is the money. Any book that sells will sell whether you’re awake or asleep, and you don’t have to do any additional creative work. (You will have to market the book, and if you’re self-publishing then you will have to sell it.) In the case of a successful self-publisher like Peter, you can get $15 or more in pure profit per book — compared to about $1 if you use a conventional commercial publisher. I recall I got about $1.15 per book for my first effort through Osborne McGraw-Hill.